Russian President Vladimir Putin took the oath of office for a fourth term as president – solidifying his place as the country's longest-serving leader since Communist dictator Josef Stalin. Putin easily won re-election in March after his chief opponent was disqualified.
The elaborate Kremlin ceremony took place at the Grand Kremlin Palace at noon Moscow time.
By the end of his new term, Putin will have ruled for 24 years. Although Russia's constitution limits the presidency to two terms, Putin – who took over from an ailing and embattled Boris Yeltsin in 2000 – skirted that limit by swapping posts with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev for one term, from 2008 to 2012.
In a brief speech, Putin thanked Russians for their support and promised to do everything to make the country prosperous.
"I understand my colossal responsibility," he said. "I believe that the entire point of my life is to serve Russia."
He said only a free society could create the conditions for technological and economic breakthroughs necessary for Russia's development.